"I want it to be over," says Brody (Damien Lewis) from his solitary cage as he awaits his death, and for a long time I've wanted this show to be as well. Homeland's third season was by far its most erratic, schizophrenically shifting between the serious CIA shenanigans of season one and the full blown preposterousness of season two. But in its finale, The Star, it provided a sad and sombre ending which through the death of Brody takes the show in a bold new direction.
Poor Brody never looked like he had a chance of making it out of Iran alive. The episode cold opens straight into the immediate aftermath of Akbari's assassination, as Brody tries to nonchalantly escape from the revolutionary guard. With Damien Lewis's eyes nervously darting about, he really could not look more suspicious if he tried, at one point raising his hands in surrender when simply asked a question.
No Chance of Escape
But escape he does, thanks to Carrie (Claire Danes) who has remained on the ground in the hope of extracting the former marine. Saul (Mandy Patinkin) finds himself between a rock and hard place on his last day in the CIA director's chair, having to decide whether to let Brody be caught, and thus improve his mole Javadi's (Shaun Toub) stock in Iran, or honour Brody's efforts by helping Carrie extract him to safety.
The matter is taken out of Saul's hands after the treacherous Dar Adal (Murray Abraham), who has had the word 'disloyal' flashing in big letters above his head all season, informs Senator Lockhart (Tracy Letts) and the president of the operation. Brody is snatched from the safe house, tried, and sentenced to be hung that very evening.
At least Carrie and Brody, the two star-crossed lovers in Homeland's CIA soap, got to spend one final night together, echoing the intimacy of season two's cabin where they can express their feelings. Carrie finally reveals to Brody her pregnancy from that time, and her dream of them starting a life together.
But that always seemed even an bigger fantasy than how they depict the corridors of Langley, with Brody himself shooting down the idea he has achieved atonement by saying, "In what universe can you redeem one murder by committing another"?
Brody is taken to a gallows consisting of a crane in front of a darkly lit industrial area that holds a giant mural of the ayatollah. I don't know if this is how Iran really does public hangings, but if so boy do they know how to set the scene. It's a distressing moment, Carrie helplessly watching on as the love of her life writhes in asphyxiation before her, and although his death was to some extent expected, it was still brave by the show's writers.
For whilst Brody as a character had been poorly developed from his initial enigmatic origins, his trauma from the Middle East conflict and unsuccessful rehabilitation to American life was an integral element of the show.
"Everyone sees him through your eyes now."
After Lockhart refuses her request to honour Brody with a star, her defiant mark at night on the memorial wall is a subtle yet heart-breaking moment. Carrie has succeeded in showing the world the goodness inside Brody, and as Javadi notes, "Everyone sees him through your eyes now".
The nagging pregnancy storyline culminated in Carrie realising what we've been thinking for weeks; why on earth is she having a child, based on her situation at work and the health problems she suffers? Oh well, it doesn't matter because she can conveniently offload her child to her dad (James Rebhorn) to look after the baby it seems.
With Brody gone, Saul in the private sector and Carrie off to Istanbul, the show finds itself in unfamiliar territory. With a few tweaks, this could have been a fitting and respectable end for Homeland. But season four has already been announced, and so the show will go on. But where could they possibly take us next?